Homeowners, now’s the time to get your pool in tip-top shape for the upcoming swimming season. While many pool stores and services are getting busier these days, you can still get services scheduled within a reasonable amount of time and avoid long checkout lines if you act soon. Wait until May and you’ll probably run into issues with service timing, out of stock products, and crowded pool stores.

Start off by giving your pool a thorough sweeping. Using a wall brush, scrub the walls and bottom of your pool, including the tile at the water line and skimmer entrances. This will release any minerals that have built up against the pool’s surfaces so they can be filtered out. It will also help loosen up any stains that can be later treated with chemicals.

Clean the tiles around the water line and on water features of hard water stains by using a pumice stone and a good amount of elbow grease. For tough stains, use diluted muriatic acid to help lift them and be sure to wear protective gloves. You can hire a professional to sandblast your tile to get it back to new-looking, but this can be pricey and if done too often it could damage your tile.

To ensure your pumps are operating at optimal levels, clean the filter about twice a year. After a winter of collecting fallen leaves and other debris, your pool’s filters need a thorough washing. Follow your pump’s manual and wash out the filters using a garden hose, then replace and add the appropriate media to re-coat the filters. This can be a big job for a novice, so enlist the help of an experienced neighbor the first time or two. Many pool stores offer this service for between $125-150 if you’re not up to the task.

Finally, get your water tested at the pool store and apply the appropriate chemicals to get your water to a safe pH and chlorine level for swimming. Maintaining the chemical balance is something that many pool owners let slide during the non-swimming months, so now is a great time to get back on track.